Masters of Universes
by Ryan Harper
It was a regularly televised conversion. Adam holds aloft the mystical Power Sword and exclaims, “by the power of Grayskull….” The sword draws fire from heaven, and it enters Adam—blowing his clothes off and transforming him into He-Man. Before the scene ends, the bare-chested hero lowers the sword, holds it horizontally, and finishes the sentence in a reverberating voice: “…I have the power!” The conversion was always sudden, and it was usually late.
I watched He-Man and the Masters of the Universe religiously as a boy. It was one in a series of after-school cartoons that provided the content for my young imagination: G.I. Joe, Transformers, Voltron, Thundercats. My parents and grandparents furnished me with the action figures, even Mattel’s playset masterpiece, Castle Grayskull. In addition to playing with the toys, I started dramatizing He-Man episodes. After constructing a passable replica of the Power Sword using my erector set, I—Adam, He-Man’s Clark Kent—would run wildly around the house, as if I were being chased by He-Man’s arch nemesis Skeletor and his henchmen. Then, finally cornered by the imaginary adversaries, I would stop, settle myself, and rehearse the moment when Adam put away his old self: By the power of Grayskull…quickly dropping the sword, removing my shirt, picking up the sword again…I have the power! Shit was about to get real.
My mother stayed at home during my formative years, so she bore witness to this spectacle. One day, after hearing me perform this incantation the fourth or fifth time, she took me aside and gently informed me that she did not want me saying those words. She then smiled as she suggested what she obviously regarded as a plausible alternative: “Why don’t you say, ‘by the power of Jesus?’”